Monthly Archives: July 2016

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bill This Summer

“When the heat reaches it’s peak, it’s always good to have a few ideas of how to conserve energy, while still staying cool.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
It’s Summertime, and the living is easy. Until your see your energy bill. Save money on your electric and utility bills using these energy conservation methods.

Summer is supposed to be a relaxing, low-key time, but it’s hard to unwind when you’re worried about your home’s high energy costs. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help minimize the energy your household uses during warm weather months. If you’d rather spend your budget on fun-in-the-sun activities than on utility bills, make note of these amazing energy conservation tips.

1. Use ceiling fans to help cool your room

Raise your thermostat a few degrees and use ceiling fans to cool rooms as much as possible. Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners and are comfortable ways to keep air moving in your home. If you received a tax refund this year, you might want to consider using it to purchase ceiling fans for your living spaces and bedrooms to help minimize the energy that you need to keep your home a comfortable temperature during hotter months. Ceiling fans come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles to match virtually any décor. Be sure to look for ceiling fans with the ENERGY STAR certification.

2. Use off peak energy on your appliances

Use off peak energy as much as possible for tasks like running the dishwasher and washing and drying clothes. Check with your local utility company to see if they offer discounted rates for off peak hours and when those rates apply.

Christmas Treevia Real Simple

3. Plan no cook dinners for hot days

Plan to have no-cook dinners several times a week. In addition to saving the energy that your stove or oven will use, you’ll also avoid heating up the kitchen and making your air conditioner work harder. There are many easy, nutritional dinners that don’t require cooking. All of which are great choices:

• Green salads
• pasta salads
• sandwiches
• fruit plates

Even some chicken and meat dishes are good served cold. Who wants to eat a big, heavy meal when it’s hot outside anyway?

4. Use a thermostat-controlled attic fan

If you have an attic, consider installing a thermostat-controlled attic fan to help keep your entire house cooler. With sunlight beating down on the roof and heat rising from below, the temperature in attics can rise very quickly in the summer. An attic fan can help cool the space as well as the rooms below.

5. Maintain your air conditioning unit

For peak efficiency, it’s important to keep your exterior air conditioning unitwell maintained. Remove any leaves, twigs, or debris from around the unit, and clean the coils regularly. Change your air conditioning system filters per manufacturer’s instructions to keep energy use to a minimum.

Save Energy on Electric Bill

6. Clean your freezer coils

If you have a freezer, remember that it has to work harder during warm weather months to maintain the correct temperature for frozen foods. Keep the coils clean to help it run efficiently, and check the gaskets to make sure the seal is maintained and the unit isn’t leaking cold air. Also, check to see if there is sufficient clearance room around the freezer for air to properly circulate.

7. Take energy conservation measurements before leaving the house

Before you leave on vacation, take some steps to conserve energy use while you are gone.

• Raise your thermostat, and unplug any appliances or electronics that won’t be in use while you’re away.
• Even small appliances and electronics like microwaves and television sets may continue to draw energy if they remain plugged in although they are turned off.
• Remember to set your water heater to “low” or to turn down the temperature while you are away as well.
• Put lamps and lights on timers instead of leaving them on the entire time.
• Close curtains and blinds to keep the warm sunlight out.

8. Use your bathrooms ventilating fan

When you take a shower or a bath in the summer, turn on the bathroom ventilating fan to remove heat and humidity and to help save on cooling costs.

Save Energy Clothes Line

9. Line dry your clothing

Take advantage of the warm weather to line dry clothes and linens instead of using energy to run the clothes dryer. In addition to saving electricity, you’ll save dryer wear and tear on the fabrics.

10. Learn alternative eco-friendly methods to reduce energy costs

Look into alternative ways to cool your home, such as geothermal cooling and evaporative cooling systems. Use your tax refund for window shadinghome improvements, such as installing patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens and films. Strategically placed landscaping can also help provide shade and minimize cooling costs.

You can also keep cool this summer with some old-fashioned methods that don’t require a lot of electricity or energy. Mix up a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade, or make some homemade ice cream using the hand-cranked method instead of an electric machine. Hang a hammock in the shade, and enjoy a good book. Invite the neighbors over for a cook-out instead of heating up your oven and stove. For dessert, enjoy the best summer treat of all that doesn’t even require any energy to prepare – slice open a ripe, red watermelon.

7 Ways to Rethink the Shrub

“If you have any type of yard to maintain, shrubs are a great option.  But why not get a little creative for a change and do something interesting.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Shrubs are ubiquitous throughout our landscapes, many times making up a significant bulk of greenery in the garden. Often used as low-maintenance and long-term plantings around a home’s foundation or as a low walkway edge, these woody plants can do so much more.

Whether you utilize their unusual characteristics, prune them into tight forms or design with them for wildlife, you can get creative with shrubs for a more interesting and unusual garden. Here are ideas for rethinking the basic shrub.

10 Small-Scale Agaves Just Right for Containers

“Small containers and only a little watering, what’s not to love about this idea?”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
There are more than 200 species of agave, ranging in size from 6 inches to more than 12 feet wide. Due to their modest size and compact root systems, smaller agave species make an excellent choice for growing in containers. They require only infrequent watering and do well in summer, even in the heat. Their spiky shapes add dramatic interest to many garden spaces, big or small, along with patios, poolsides and entryways and as outdoor table centerpieces.

Here are 10 agave species that are perfect for smaller areas, with varying cold tolerances, exposure requirements and sizes to ensure there is one right for you.

The Polite House: How to Deal With Noisy Neighbors

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
Originally Published on HOUZZ by Lizzie Post

10 Stress Management Secrets for Your Home

“With our lives so filled with things we think we need to do, it’s easy to become stressed.  Take some time to relax and enjoy life sometimes with these tips”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Relieve stress with our Home Matters experts 10 ways to combat stress. Reduce stress by exercising, being present & practicing serene stress management techniques.

It’s no secret that life can be stressful. However, many of the ways to combat stress do seem like secrets. A life filled with stress due to agitation and anxiety could be the root for an array of other problems circulating in your home. You deserve to lead a tranquil and stress-free lifestyle. And believe it or not, you can actually take the steps to beginning your journey to a stress-free life in the confines of your home with expert stress management techniques.

Below, we have uncovered 10 secret ways to cope with stress all within the comfort of your home.

Indoor plants in glass containers

1.Bring the Outside In

The great outdoors have long been hailed as man’s most rewarding escape from the demands of urban living. A long walk through a lively forest, tending a crackling fire under a starry sky, or enjoying a simple picnic atop a sea of rolling green hills are just a few ways in which we use Mother Nature’s welcoming embrace to detox from our everyday lives. So, it only makes sense that bringing a little bit of that natural remedy indoors will help add a sense of ease and beauty to our homes while reducing stress. If you find you’re combating stress on a regular basis, try adding some foliage to one or multiple rooms in your home. Here are a few peaceful plants to help get you started decorating:

• Aloe Plants
• Peace Lily
• Bamboo Palm

Indoor plants in glass containers

2.Put Down the Devices

That’s right. As difficult as it sounds, powering down will in fact help you calm down. Our mobile devices are great tools for achieving daily goals, entertainment, and connecting with others, but when it comes time for “you” time it’s best to disconnect. There are numerous studies that correlate increased use of digital devices with increased levels of anxiety and stress. As we become dependent on these devices, we begin to expect instantaneous results and confirmations, which in turn makes us more prone to dissatisfaction with minor events, like not receiving an email at the moment you expect it.

Man listening to music with eyes closes

3.Tune Out

Now this one’s pretty obvious. If you’re feeling particularly stressed it’s always good to resort to your favorite tunes for solace and comfort. Scientific studies have found that listening to music slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and releases your body’s natural feel-good neurochemical, dopamine. So find your comfy spot, cue up your favorite song, sit back, relax and let the melodies soothe your soul.

Man listening to music with eyes closes

4.Start Exercising for Greater Stress-Relief

Here’s one you can pair with listening to your favorite tunes: exercising.Yes, exercising can have a tremendous effect on your mood. Although exercising itself can at times be pretty challenging, the natural high you experience once you’ve finished a routine is well worth the strain. Plus, you can complete a full-body routine within minutes, all in the comfort of your own home. Here are a few quick exercise routines to help get you started:

How to do power Pushups
How to do bodyweight Squats
How to do jumping jacks
How to do crunches

Man listening to music with eyes closes

5. Deep Clean Therapy

We all try our best to avoid it, but cleaning your home can actually be quite the stress reducer. Think about it, experiencing unwanted irregularities in our daily lives often causes stress. When our homes are dirty, full of clutter, and out of order, they’re not fulfilling their duty as a place to wind down from a long day. Instead, it’s just adding to the tension. So get out that mop, get out that dustpan, and get down to business.

Grocery store basket

6. Restock Your Kitchen with Healthy Food Choices

Stress comes in many shapes and sizes. And sometimes all of that stress adds to our shape and size. One great way to reduce stress is to drop the fast food and pick up a habit of paying close attention to what you put in your body. A great way to start is by thinning out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of any unhealthy choices and leave behind only that which is healthy for you. If you notice there’s not much left, then you might want to consider changing your grocery list.

Bubble bath

7. Take a Relaxing Bubble Bath and Detox the Day

When was the last time you drew a bath? Most of us can’t remember the last time we stripped our troubles away and slipped into a warm, soothing bath. It’s such an easy in-home escape from stress that it’s a surprise so many baths go underutilized each and every day. But to really make it an experience light some scented candles, put on some ambient music, and add some detoxing minerals or other soothing organic material to the water. Here are some natural additives to consider for making it a true detoxing experience:

• Sea Salt
• Hydrogen Peroxide
• Magnetic Clay
• Apple Cider Vinegar

Woman in seated yoga position

8. Focus on Your Breathe by Breathing In and Out

Now this little trick you can do anywhere in your home. All you need is yourself and the air around you. Simply take a break from whatever it is you’re doing and take some long, deep breaths. You can stand, sit in a chair, or go full yogi on the ground (Hopefully you’ve finished a deep clean session before trying the latter). Taking deep breaths helps reduce your blood pressure, increase oxygen flow throughout the entire body and reduce your heartbeat.

Friends enjoying meal outdoors

9. Get Social. Invite Your Friends Over.

One way to quickly de-stress or at least curb your stress for the time being is to socialize with others. The presence of friends and family can naturally calm our unease by reminding us what’s most important in life. Try making it an event. The process of planning and preparing a social event at your home will help keep you busy and your mind off of whatever it may be that’s causing you to stress. Here are some ideas for a social event to host:

• Host a party for the next big game
• Invite people over for a backyard BBQ
• Throw a small cocktail party
• Get to know the neighbors with a friendly meet & greet

Group of friends laughing

10. Laugh Off the Day

To cap it off, here’s a really out there approach to stress relief that can be done at home – laughter yoga. Yeah, you heard right. Laughter yoga is a type of yoga made popular by a doctor from India named Dr. Madan Kataria. This revolutionary technique spread across the world in the early 2000’s and is still making headlines today because of its’ effectiveness. You may be thinking, “okay, so you just stand around and laugh uncontrollably like a crazy person?” Well, not exactly, but that is a good place to start. It becomes a bit more of an involved process, and believe it or not, there are actually many different ways to laugh. You can begin practicing this great stress management strategy by learning ‘how to do laughter yoga’ at home while practicing it in your living room.

How Much Paint Do You Need?

“We are always involved in painting projects with our clients and these tips make perfect sense.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
My husband and I are avid DIYers, and whenever we start a new project we joke about the number of trips to the home-improvement store it’s going to take to complete the task. A “one-trip job” is considered a smashing success. The unfortunately more common “five-trip job” tends to feel slightly less triumphant.
Originally posted on by Jennifer Ott